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Suspended firm hit with tough targets

By Ian Quinn

A private provider, whose services aimed at slashing GP referrals were suspended after fears over patient safety, is to be hit with tough new quality targets.

NHS managers are drawing up an ‘assurance framework' to satisfy the Care Quality Commission that Clinicenta, whose contract with 20 London PCTs has now entered a sixth month of suspension, is fit to start treating their patients again.

Clincenta's contract across the capital was shelved last November, after NHS London launched an investigation into the death of one of its patients and a CQC probe claimed it may have put patients at risk.

Pulse subsequently revealed how the commission's investigation found the firm - brought in to provide treatment including cardiac rehabilitation, acute home care out of hospital and end-of-life care - provided a ‘zero-star service' and failed to ensure staff were adequately trained, or even if they were qualified to work in the UK.

An NHS London spokesperson said: ‘Our first priority is patient safety and services will remain suspended until we have absolute assurance that all the issues raised have been addressed.

‘As the suspension has gone on, some PCTs have sought alternative providers as an interim measure. The money to pay for this will be taken out of the value of the Clinicenta contract.

Clinicenta is not being paid for any Out of Hospital services while it is suspended.'

The Clinicenta service aimed to cut GP outpatient referrals